Italy legend Andrea Pirlo has admitted that Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali is one of the country's brightest prospects, but insisted that the pair are not similar players.
Tonali rose to fame playing at the base of Brescia's midfield, dictating play with his passing range, and that quickly brought links to Pirlo, who famously pulled the strings for Italy, AC Milan and Juventus during his prime.
However, speaking during an Instagram Live interview with Nicolò De Devitiis (via La Gazzetta dello Sport), Pirlo was eager to avoid comparisons with Tonali and insisted that the only thing the pair have in common is their famous messy hair.
"They say Tonali may be my heir," he began. "In my opinion, as a type of footballer he doesn't look like me, he looks more like me with his long hair and for the fact that he plays in Brescia.
"For me, he is another type of player, much more complete, both in defence and in approach - it's a mix between me and other players. He is certainly the most promising of the midfielders in Italy.
"I don't see him as an heir because his way of playing is different, but he will certainly become a great player."
Pirlo left Brescia for Inter in 1998, but a tricky spell at San Siro saw him return to his boyhood side on loan. It was upon his return that he transitioned into a deep-lying playmaker role, where he would star for Italy, AC Milan and Juventus for the next 20-odd years.
20-year-old Tonali, who has already impressed in that same role, is widely expected to leave Brescia in the near future.
Both Inter and Juventus are believed to be keen on landing the Italy international, but there has also been interest from the Premier League. Liverpool have been recently linked with Tonali, while Manchester City and Manchester United were both credited with interest in the youngster in the past.
Brescia owner Massimo Cellino recently revealed that he has an agreement with Tonali that he can leave the club this summer if he asks for a transfer, but Cellino is ready to do everything possible to try and convince the midfielder to stay.